A deflated, uninspired performance against Iowa State knocked off Texas Tech from its highest of highs after a win at Oklahoma on Oct. 22.
A 41-7 loss at the hands of the Cyclones has Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville on the search for players to assert themselves as standout leaders on the field.
“It’s hard to be a cheerleader,” Tuberville said Monday. “People that don’t play much — you can obviously get that out of players. But, I’m looking for more guys that do it by example other than just voicing their opinions.”
Tech (5-3, 2-3 in Big 12 Conference play) gets its opportunity at a second consecutive road upset when it takes on No. 21 Texas at 11 a.m. Saturday in Austin.
Tuberville and players credited a lack of execution as the main factor in Tech’s loss to Iowa State at home last Saturday.
Tech quarterback Seth Doege said the first and main thing the Red Raiders need to better themselves at is playing spirited.
The Tech sidelines were noticeably dull and calm throughout various sequences of the Iowa State loss.
Doege said he personally does not allow himself to get too amped up no matter the stage of a game, but he acknowledged the lack of excitement compared to the Red Raiders in Norman, Okla., while working on an upset of the Sooners.
“As I said, I didn’t get into it,” Doege said. “I try to keep my emotions at a certain level, and I just worry about my job and what I can control. It didn’t feel like the same sideline as OU, of course, but that’s something we’ll need to work on and improve on.”
The Longhorns are coming off a 43-0 demolishing of Kansas, a game in which Texas’ running backs combined for 441 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Freshmen Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron each had two scores and freshman quarterback David Ash added another rushing touchdown.
Texas did not throw a touchdown pass against the Jayhawks.
Tech is not to be fooled by this performance, though, as the Longhorns’ running game has been their offense’s main generator all season.
Defensive tackle Donald Langley said stopping Texas’ ground game is at the top of the Red Raiders’ list of defensive priorities for Saturday.
“First and foremost, we’ve got to stop the run,” Langley said, “and leave it to (Ash and Case McCoy) to pass the ball.”
Tech has been preparing to see both Ash and the sophomore McCoy at quarterback for the Longhorns.
On Tuesday, Tuberville said he did not see too many differences between the two. The Tech defense’s Achilles’ heel this year — mobile quarterbacks — is something unlikely to be present when it comes to Texas.
Ash and McCoy have combined to rush for a net of -1 rushing yards this season.
However, Tuberville said the defense is not good enough to believe it can shut down any opposing offense yet.
“We’re not fast enough, we’re not quick enough and we’re not big enough on the defensive line to say we can go line up and just shut anybody down on defense,” Tuberville said.
The same philosophy goes for the offense as well, as Tuberville said he does not believe the offense is at a point where it can expect to accumulate a large amount of points on any team in the country unless it’s on a hot streak.
“Or, we’re not good enough on offense experience-wise to say we can go out and score 40 or 50 points every time we line up, unless we have a lot of confidence,” he said.
Ultimately, Tuberville sees a lot of similarities between his Red Raiders and the Longhorns.
Those similarities may not extend to each team’s statistics and offensive philosophies, but Tuberville said both teams are progressing along similar paths in the 2011 football season.
“They’ve had an up-and-down year to this point, as we have,” he said. “Both (teams are still) looking for an identity.”